The Opera Industry in Italy from Cimarosa to Verdi: The Role of the Imnpresario

By DeLong, Kenneth | Canadian University Music Review, January 1, 1985 | Go to article overview

The Opera Industry in Italy from Cimarosa to Verdi: The Role of the Imnpresario


DeLong, Kenneth, Canadian University Music Review


JOHN ROSSELLI. The Opera industry in Italy from Cimarosa to Verdi: The Role of the lmnpresario. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. viii, 214 pp.

In The Opera Industry from Cimarosa to Verdi, John Rosselli presents an account of opera during Italy's "Golden Century" (William Weaver) from a perspective little considered by most operatically inclined academics or opera buffs. Instead of the usual discussion of composers, works, and singers, Rosselli views his subject from the bottom up, from the standpoint of those ultimately responsible for making individual performances, and even whole seasons, of opera actually happen - the impresarios. In doing so, Rosselli has produced that academic rarity, a genuinely unique book, one that is not only immensely entertaining and informative, but also one that provides some useful reflections upon the various factors, artistic and financial, that governed the development of Italian opera from the ancien regime to the founding of modern Italy in the 1870s.

As Rosselli himself points out in his "Note on further reading," "This book is the first attempt to deal systematically with Italian opera as a business, and with impresari and agents as a group" (p. 205). Being new, it follows that the book is based upon sources hitherto little examined by other writers. Not content with consulting volumes on social, economic, and musical history, Rosselli has investigated the diaries and papers of innumerable impresarios, agents, and sundry surrounding operatic hangers-on, and has also dug deep into the theatrical and business archives of virtually every town and city of operatic consequence in Italy. The fruit of this remarkable industry is a significant and important work of musical sociology.

Who were these impresarios? What sort of people were they and where did they come from? What did they actually do? What was their relationship to the composers? When and why did they eventually the out? In an account that is at once terse and packed with information, Rosselli answers all these questions and more. Roselli has a keen eye for the anecdotal, and in his rummaging through city archives, professional papers, and letters, he has come up with some striking, even startling facts. For example, if after months of careful preparation, fortuitous casting, and more than a little luck, an opera was deemed successful, the impresario might bask in widespread public acclaim and even be the focal point for a torchlight procession. He could, and often did, make large sums of money. If, on the other hand, his opera flopped, his very safety might be in jeopardy, as was the case after an unfortunate performance of L'Elisir d'amore in Rome in 1834, when the authence could be heard chanting "send the impresario to jail" (p. 156). After one particularly disastrous flop in Parma in 1818, the impresario Osea Francia was arrested on the spot and put in the fortress. Another had a bench thrown at him from the fifth tier; and one even took poison after suffering a season of overwhelming losses at Venice's Teatro La Fenice in 1794. Most impresarios, however, appear to have been energetic, if sometimes unscrupulous, entrepreneurs who had an irrational love of the theater and who also loved a challenge.

Although they wielded enormous power, often extending into every facet of opera production, most impresarios are today obscure figures and are rarely known by name. Well established by Mozart's time, enough so to inspire his comic opera, the impresarios seem to have had their heyday during the first half of the nineteenth century, when in conjunction with and supported by the nobility they exercised a virtual monopoly over Italian operatic life. However, aside from Bartolomeo Mireli (1794-1879), known because of his close association with Verdi, and Domenico Barbaj a (1778-1841), who ran theaters in Naples and Vienna for over thirty years, the figure of the impresario crops up only fleetingly in most accounts of Italian opera. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Opera Industry in Italy from Cimarosa to Verdi: The Role of the Imnpresario
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.